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As solar capacity continues to expand rapidly, we’re simply running out of skilled workers to deploy solar fast enough. By 2030, according to Canary Media, we’ll be adding 100 GW of solar capacity per year, and we simply can’t keep up with the labor required to build those solar farms. Enter the machines.
A startup company called Built Robotics is working on giant robots that can quickly deploy large-scale solar farms. The company’s trenching robots have helped install about 2 GW of solar capacity so far. But these new robots in development are a whole different ballgame.
According to the Canary Media story, the foundation for large solar farms is thousands of heavy steel beams, which need to be driven up to eight feet into the soil. Built Robotics says their giant solar-farm-building robots will be able to complete this labor-intensive task three to five times faster than traditional methods.
Employment in the solar industry will more than double in the next 10 years, according to Solar Energy Industries Association data. But 89 percent of solar firms are having difficulty finding enough labor. So this is a case where machines aren’t supplanting the work force, they’re supplementing it.
Greg Zimmerman is senior contributing editor for FacilitiesNet.com and Building Operating Management magazine.
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